Blue Jays: Five First Base Options If Justin Smoak Struggles

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: First baseman Justin Smoak
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: First baseman Justin Smoak /
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DUNEDIN, FL – FEBRUARY 27: Rowdy Tellez
DUNEDIN, FL – FEBRUARY 27: Rowdy Tellez /

Rowdy Tellez – A Homegrown Slugger

Rowdy Tellez is almost certainly the first name that’ll come to mind when discussing alternative first base options. Drafted by the Jays in the 30th(!) round of the 2013 draft, Tellez got off to an outstanding start in his first full year of professional ball, slashing .305/.375/.438 with 102 total bases in 65 total games between Lansing and Bluefield. Over the next two seasons, Tellez would continue to impress in Dunedin, Lansing and New Hampshire.

In 2016, his most successful season, Tellez batted .297/.387/.530 with 23 dingers and 81 RBI over a full season in New Hampshire. He struck out just 21% of his at-bats and swatted 29 doubles. He was also solid in the field, appearing in 101 games at first base.

Currently, Tellez, a Sacramento native, is set to begin the season in Buffalo, where he slashed an ugly .222/.295/.333 in 122 games last year. Despite this regression in production, Tellez is still ranked 15th on the Blue Jays prospect list.

His defense has been described as “serviceable”, but he continues to try and improve his glove while working on getting stronger. Surprisingly enough, Tellez stole six bases last year with Buffalo, even though he scored a 20 in the running category of the scouting scale.

Scouts rave about Tellez’s strong build – he stands 6’4” and weighs 200lbs, his ability to hit fastballs and his constantly improving strikeout rate. He’s only 22, so there’s certainly some time before we see this youngster in the bigs. Nevertheless, he’s a left-handed power bat with some interesting skills that could make him a serious candidate as Smoak’s replacement should he be needed.